Finding Your Roots

Mar 08, 2018
Written by cmcguire
On Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m., the Library is presenting a Genealogy 101 program to help people get started with researching their family tree. Knowing where to look for information can be a challenge. This workshop will help point people in the right direction.

Knowledge of my own family history only goes back a couple of generations. My mother’s paternal grandparents came from Russia in the 1890s, escaping the Tsar’s pogroms. They entered the country through Canada and settled in Superior, Wisconsin. According to my uncle, they may have been here illegally, but there are census records in the early 1900s listing them and some of their children. They then moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where my grandfather, number 12 of 13 children, was born. He had a twin sister who died when she was one. All but one of my great aunts and uncles stayed in the Duluth area. The next several generations are scattered all over the country. That is as far as this side of the family research has progressed.

My mom’s maternal grandparents came from Lithuania. They were also fleeing persecution. They ended up in Chicago, where my grandmother and her two brothers were born and raised. At some point, they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. That is where my grandmother met my grandfather, who was visiting a mutual friend. She moved to Duluth with him when they got married.

As for my dad’s side of the family, both of my grandparents emigrated from Romania. In the 1890s, the government took away the citizenship of all Jews in the country and there was a mass exodus. My grandmother came from a town called Tirgu Neamt. She told me that her mother owned a store there. She made a point to say that her mother owned it, not her father.

My grandmother came through Ellis Island with her father and her three sisters. They moved to Ohio. My grandmother and two of her sisters ended up in Minneapolis. I am named after the other sister who stayed in Ohio. I do not know what happened to my great grandfather. My grandmother told me he did not like it here. I also do not know what happened to my great grandmother. She must have died before they left Romania.

My paternal grandfather, who was also a twin, came from another town in Romania not too far from my grandmother’s, but they never met until they came to the U.S. I do not know how or where they met. He died in 1956, a few years before my parents met. That is about all I know about his history.

I find it amazing that to find a much older, general history of my family, I can just open up a bible (Old Testament) and read stories of my ancestors wandering in the desert in search of freedom and the promised land. Join us on March 29 to learn how to find your family’s roots.